Former West Indies skipper Darren Sammy has called on the International Cricket Council (ICC) and other bodies to prioritise addressing racism in the sport, with as much gusto as it tackles integrity of the game issues.

The issue of societal racial inequality barged its way into public discourse after an unarmed African American man, George Floyd, was killed in the United States by white police officers a few months ago. 

As part of the process of reckoning, Sammy had himself reacted with anger when he discovered that the name previously used to refer to him by Indian Premier League (IPL) teammates, a few seasons ago, was the equivalent of the derogatory term ‘blackie.’  Since then, several players have admitted that they too have been impacted by racism in the sport.  Sammy, who has found himself at the forefront of the cricket movement, believes a lot more can be done to address the issue.

 “We made the recommendations.  You know racism is real. It’s not something that we can hide,” Sammy told Reuters news agency in a recent interview.

“So I urge them, the same emphasis they put on protecting the integrity of the game.  Why not protect the integrity of the human being?”

I’ve never been a fan of politics.

The term has a number of definitions and I abhor involvement in any of the variations.

Former Cricket West Indies boss, Dave Cameron, is now in the thick of a political fight he is not likely to win because he, like myself, may not be a fan of any of the definitions either and has not played the game well.

The first definition of politics is basic. It speaks simply to activities associated with the governance of a body, area, country, whatever.

That would suggest that part of being in a leadership role (governance), is being an effective politician.

But politics also speaks to views. Your views on governance are your politics.

Whenever your politics aren’t popular, you had better find a way to massage them into a room.

Dave Cameron believed Cricket West Indies should be run like a business. He was well on his way to achieving that when he was ousted, but his politics and approach to seeing them through, meant he alienated many along the way.

Included in that alienation were heads of government in the West Indies as well as the current CWI board.

Now Cameron wants to run for International Cricket Council (ICC) Chairman and on the face of it, it looks like the former CWI president is missing the power he once wielded and seeks a way back.

However, an aspect of his politics that has gone unchallenged, even while he was president of the CWI, is his wish to see an end to the ‘triopoly’ in world cricket.

Cameron has made that issue the lynchpin of his argument for a seat at the head of the table.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), and Cricket Australia (CA), dominate world cricket and all policies at the ICC level, including those involved with financial remuneration, seem to favour this big three.

It is no wonder then, that the frontrunners to replace Shashank Manohar hail from two of the three powers. Saurav Ganguly is president of the BCCI and Colin Graves, the man touted as favourite for the quasi-vacant role, Colin Graves, is a former ECB boss.

Here is where I part ways with politics. Well, we were never going in the same direction really.

Cameron would like the support of the CWI to run for ICC Chairman and while the organisation has not given a response one way or the other, it is largely expected that he will not get it.

Now the CWI board has had its issues with Cameron’s leadership style, with maybe his policies, but and this is a big but - Cameron represents the only chance for small teams like the West Indies to have their interests represented at the highest level.

There is no doubt that Cameron has a point, particularly in respect to the division of money from television rights. The big three, granted they provide the biggest audiences, corner a large part of that market and the ensuing imbalance makes it difficult for smaller nations to invest in their cricket and advance to the lofty heights of the big three, creating ‘forever minnows’.

Here is my question. Do you play politics ahead of issues, especially if that issue is as important to the future of cricket as it is?

Outspoken former West Indies batsman Philo Wallace has said Cameron’s conundrum is one of his own making, and he may be right.

Blessed or cursed with an incredible self-belief, Cameron comes across as arrogant, irreverent, and maybe a little despotic.

It cost him the presidency of the CWI but I don’t believe like Wallace does, that “Dave Cameron should just tell himself ‘I’ve run West Indies cricket for six years' and just leave it out and just be an observer now, because going up for the ICC job and looking for the West Indies support, it can’t work.”

I believe it should still be workable because what is best for West Indies cricket should be at the forefront of the minds of CWI president Ricky Skerritt and all the members of the board.

Therefore, Cameron’s transgressions should be considered water under the bridge in the wake of a bigger fight.

“It’s like trying to get a dumpling up a hill. Unfortunately, he isn’t going to get the support of Cricket West Indies and we all know it.  It’s very sad that a former president has come to this, a former president of West Indies cricket, but sometimes the way that you rule comes back to bite you, there is something called karma…he disrespected leaders and prime ministers in the region and that cannot work,” Wallace had said.

But I have no time for politics, petty grievances or Karma.

I do have time for a stronger West Indies cricket, whether or not I like the person who helps that process along.

Cricket West Indies president Ricky Skerritt says he has not made a decision on who to support for International Cricket Council (ICC) Chairman just yet despite stories suggesting he would, at the very least, not be supporting the bid of his predecessor, Dave Cameron

Speaking on Antigua Observer Radio show, ‘Good Morning Jojo’, Skerritt said he had not responded positively or negatively to a letter from Cameron because it did not seek a response.

“[…] we received a letter from my predecessor which, in effect, he said the letter speaks for itself and he said, looking forward to your support. Nowhere did the letter ask for anything,” said Skerritt.

Skerritt was referring to claims from Cameron that he sent a letter requesting that the CWI support him in his bid for chairman of the ICC, in effect offering him as a candidate the organization nominates.

“The letter was simply saying about all the things that he said I knew about, and in other words, I knew all these things he is going to do so therefore he is looking forward to my support,” said Skerritt.

“He, in effect, was assuming that because Cricket West Indies knew the issues, that he could look forward to our support; and I suppose he feels like that is an automatic support and so the letter came across as look, I expect you to support me. I know he has the right to think that, but however, he has gone on to tell people and I am not sure where he got it from, that I have said I am supporting the [former] chairman [Colin Graves] of the ECB [England & Wales Cricket Board],” he said.

Skerritt, in response to comments that the CWI would be offering its support elsewhere, said no such decision has come because nobody has announced they were yet running for the ICC’s top post.

“Nobody, including the chairman of ECB, to the best of my knowledge, has announced that he is going to be running for the ICC chairmanship,” said Skerritt.

Despite Skerritt’s claims, United States Cricket has written to the ICC, indicating their willingness to nominate Cameron for the top post. Cameron will need two nominations if he is to be part of the process of electing a new ICC Chairman.

Dave Cameron’s vision for the future of cricket involves longer T20 seasons, fewer Test matches for weaker teams but more players earning decent livelihoods playing all over the globe.

 The former president of Cricket West Indies is pushing this vision as he attempts to become the next Chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC), a platform that will provide him with the opportunity to create a more equitable environment in cricket globally.

 It is a job made harder for not having the support of the CWI but Cameron, who needs two votes to become a contender, is confident that he has a legitimate shot against ECB Chairman Colin Grave and possibly India’s Sourav Ganguly.

 “I have those votes I don’t think it will change. I am still waiting to hear about Ganguly’s future in the ICC. They have not finalised the election process yet,” said Cameron.

 During an interview with Indian Express, Cameron revealed his belief in a longer Indian Premier League (IPL), while noting the irony that the cancellation of the ICC World Cup paved the way for the IPL in the same window.

  “The IPL is way a more valuable product than the T20 World Cup. Let’s be very clear about that,” he said. “India will make a lot more money and so too the players. The players themselves would prefer would playing in IPL than the World Cup.

 “A lot of T20 leagues need to run concurrently, which is not happening now. Everybody wants to not clash with the other guys. The IPL needs to happen alongside BPL, CPL and Big Bash and the best players will get picked in the best leagues.

 “There will be room for everyone including the Indian players who are unsold in the IPL. They have the opportunity to play elsewhere. One has to make a decision on tradition versus profitability.”

 That being said, Cameron lamented the lack of growth in the sport, believing it should be played in more non-traditional markets that will make the sport more valuable for all concerned.

 “We need to grow in China and other places. It is a plan that has to include India. Any globalisation will require investments from India,” Cameron said.

 “A team like the West Indies plays less international games in a year but their players are able to play in the best leagues around the world and then they come to play for the country.

 “That way players make more money, their board will not have to spend money on retaining its best players and we focus on the continuous development of the sport with that money.

 We are living in a capitalist world. We are trying to talk about tradition versus what the players want. The players want to be paid.

 “Yes, Test cricket is great and it is a tradition and it will survive for another few years between the big countries but the truth is smaller counties like Afghanistan and Ireland should not be forced to play Test cricket until they can be competitive. You are wasting resources.”

 He continued: “This thing of trying to do more ICC events is not going to help the smaller countries because there is not enough space in the calendar. Test cricket should be a choice for smaller teams like Afghanistan and Ireland, it should not be mandatory.”

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has offered its condolences following the death of former West Indies batsman Everton Weekes at the age of 95.

In a statement, ICC Chief Executive Manu Sawhney remembered ICC Cricket Hall of Famer Weekes as a top batsman of his era and one whose performances will be long remembered.

“Weekes is a distinguished name in cricket and he was an integral member of one of the best Test sides ever. We all know of the ‘The Three Ws’ that comprised Frank Worrell, Clyde Walcott and Weekes, and the reputation they had during the 1940s and 50s.

“His attacking batting contributed in making the West Indies such an attractive side to watch. To be in that team itself was such a big honour, but there were times when Weekes really stood apart with his distinct style. On behalf of everyone at the ICC, I send our sincere condolences to his family and friends,” said Sawhney.

Weekes played 48 Test matches from 1947 to 1958, aggregating 4,455 runs at an average of 58.61. Known to show quick footwork and fluent stroke-play, Weekes slammed 15 centuries, which included a record five in consecutive innings in 1948.

One of those centuries came at home against England and four on a tour of India. He almost got a sixth consecutive century but was unlucky to be run out for 90 at Chennai.

Weekes’s cousin Bam Bam Weekes and son David Murray played international cricket while a few other relatives played first-class cricket.

Weekes officiated as an ICC match referee in three Tests and four One Day Internationals, all in 1994.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has used the example of a multi-ethnic England team, winners of the 2019 World Cup, to make its point about the importance of racial equality and inclusion.

Earlier this week, former West Indies captain Darren Sammy called on the body to make its voice heard in standing up for racial injustice as protests continued to spread across the United States.  The unrest follows the killing of George Floyd, an African American man, by a white police officer.

The Minneapolis cop, Derek Chauvin, was recorded kneeling on the neck of Floyd while he was pinned to the floor for several minutes during an arrest.  He went unconscious and later died at the hospital.  Chauvin has since been charged with second-degree murder.  The protests have, however, ballooned into an international call for an end to racial prejudice with several athletes and federations lending their voices to the cause.

On Friday, the ICC posted a 90-second video clip of the final moments of victory for England with Barbados-born Jofra Archer bowling the thrilling Super Over against New Zealand.  "Without diversity, cricket is nothing. Without diversity, you don't get the full picture," read the message above the video, posted on social media platform Twitter.

The England team that won the competition, in addition to Archer, featured players that had connections to several countries.  Eoin Morgan an Irishman was captain. The best performer was New Zealand born all-rounder Ben Stokes, with the spinners Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid of Pakistani origin.

 

 

The West Indies will most likely leave for the United Kingdom (UK) in about a week from today to play England in the first bio-secure Test series in history in July.

The teams will play and whether they win the series or not, England will come away with virtually all the revenues generated from the series. For the West Indies, the story will be significantly different.

Come July 1, the West Indies players and all Cricket West Indies (CWI) staff, will be taking a temporary 50 per cent salary cut.

However, they are not alone. In April, England’s male and female players took a 20 per cent pay cut as the pandemic began to take hold in the UK forcing the postponement of the West Indies’ visit, which was initially scheduled for June.

The thing is, on this tour other than match fees, CWI does not really earn anything. Under this dispensation, wherein the regional players are going to be guinea pigs for the way cricket could be played for the immediate future, they and CWI should be receiving extra compensation.

In fact, pandemic or not, visiting teams need to get something from away series. Without an opponent, the home team has no content for their broadcast partners.

In boxing, for example, should promoters be able to put together a fight between Mike Tyson and me, we would all agree that Tyson would command the bulk of the revenue. After all, he is who they would come to see. However, a reasonable argument could be made that I should be paid fairly for having the daylights knocked out of me.

It definitely takes two to tango.

A couple of years ago, under the Dave Cameron presidency, CWI proposed changes to the current model of wealth distribution in world cricket but those were rejected as being unworkable.

Correctly citing that competitive balance is critical to the appeal of the sport, Cameron argued that: “Broadcasters and viewers are not willing to see international cricket because they are getting to see their stars anyway in the IPL or CPL. As a result, international rights have been devalued, except in the big market, which is India, England and Australia. So, 20 per cent of each series should go to the visiting teams.”

The problem with this proposal is that given what the big teams would have to pay over at the end of a tour, there would not be equitable reciprocation when their teams visit the smaller-market teams rendering it impractical.

Mumbai Mirror writer Vijay Tagore explains it like this. In a column published on May 11, he said Star pays India about U$10 million for every international match. If the West Indies plays six matches on tour, then they would earn US$12million for the tour. When India tours the West Indies, India would earn much less from their 20 per cent take.

Under the current status quo, the International Cricket Council (ICC) generates income from the tournaments it organizes, like the Cricket World Cup. Most of that money goes out to its members.

So, for example, sponsorship and television rights of the World Cup brought in over US$1.6 billion between 2007 and 2015. Sponsorship and membership subscriptions also generate a few extra million.

However, the ICC gets no income from Test matches, One Day International and Twenty20 Internationals. In this scenario, the host country gets the money earned from its broadcast partners and sponsorship as well as gate receipts.

A breakdown of the money distributed from the ICC shows that for the period 2016 to 2023, based on forecasted revenues and costs, the BCCI will receive US$293 million across the eight-year cycle, ECB (England) US$143 million, Zimbabwe Cricket US$94 million and the remaining seven Full Members, including the West Indies, US$132 million each.

Associate members will receive US$280m.

For the CWI that equates to US$16.5 a year. In addition, CWI will generate money from broadcasts of home series. However, not every home series makes ‘good money’. Based on my conversations with CWI CEO Johnny Grave, CWI only makes money when England and India tour the West Indies.

What that means is that when teams like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Zimbabwe visit, CWI loses money.

According to an ICC Paper submitted by CWI in October 2018: The revenue is inextricably linked to the nature of the tours hosted in a member country. It is also linked to the existence of a host broadcaster to exploit media revenues.

“Media values for members vary: the West Indies does not have a host broadcaster, mainly because of the size of its market.”

According to the paper, in 2008 the West Indies revenue was US$19.6m. In 2009, revenue jumped to US$48 and then in 2010, it fell to US$24.2 million. Media rights in 2017 amounted to US$22million but fell precipitously to US$987,000 by the end of the financial year for 2018.

Meanwhile, player salaries remain constant, money goes into grassroots programmes, player development, tournament match fees and salaries, coaches and coaching development, as well as support for the territorial boards. In bad years, these costs easily exceed any revenue generated.

The current model is simply unsustainable but solutions are hard to come by. In the Caribbean, sponsorship is hard to come by. Stadia remain empty because the West Indies does not win consistently enough to bring the crowds back, and for the most part, the ‘stars’ don’t play in regional competitions meaning fans stay away.

Meanwhile, the peaks and troughs in earnings against the costs associated with what is required to maintain a competitive international cricket programme, demonstrates in part why there needs to be a better way; why there needs to be a more equitable way to distribute money generated from bilateral series.

For the smaller market teams, it amounts to a hand-to-mouth existence that keeps them poor and uncompetitive. And frankly, that’s simply not cricket.

 

 

 

 

Legendary West Indies fast bowler turned commentator Michael Holding has described proposals to legalise ball-tampering, in wake of the threat posed by the coronavirus, as ‘illogical’.

The thinking behind the move stems from the fact that fast bowlers often use bodily fluids like sweat and saliva to polish one side of the ball, which impacts its aerodynamics.  The method is particularly useful in aiding swing bowling.  Under Law 41, however, all other actions which alter the condition of the ball are illegal.

Players are often known to scuff the ball with a sharp object carried onto the field, fingernails, or even teeth.  With concerns raised regarding the threat posed by bodily fluids in spreading the virus, however, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has considered amending the rules to allow the use of foreign substances on the ball, with the caveat that it is done in front of the umpire.  The proposal has found favour in some circles but Holding did not agree.

“I have read that ICC is contemplating preventing people from using saliva on the ball due to Covid-19 and allowing them to use foreign substances on the ball to keep the shine on but in front of the umpire. I don't understand the logic behind that,” Holding told Espncricinfo.

“Before they got to that point they said, if they restart cricket, it has to be played in a bio-secure environment. They were saying cricketers, for instance, would have to isolate themselves for two weeks to make sure that everything was fine for when they got to the venue before the match started. And everyone involved (with the match) will have to do the same thing,” he added.

“Now if you are saying everyone is in the bio-secure environment, you are staying in the same hotel, you are not moving for the length of time you are playing the matches, if that is the case, why are you worried about someone's saliva? That person, according to what you are doing, should be free of Covid-19.”

President of Cricket West Indies (CWI) Mr Ricky Skerritt has been appointed a member of the newly formed International Cricket Council (ICC) Governance Working Group, set out to consider the future governance structure of the ICC.

The appointment was made by ICC Chairman Mr Shashank Manohar during the recent ICC Annual Conference in Dubai. The working group will be chaired by Earl Eddings from Cricket

 Australia, and will comprise Greg Barclay (New Zealand Cricket), Tony Brian (Cricket Scotland), Ehsan Mani (Pakistan Cricket Board), Chris Nenzani (Cricket South Africa) and Ricky Skerritt (Cricket West Indies).

Skerritt is also a member of the ICC Human Resource and Development Committees.

Following the successful completion of the CWI selection system review, which was a key election campaign of the “Cricket First” 10-point initiative, the other two major reviews promised by the Skerritt-Shallow administration are, like the ICC, a review of the CWI governance structure and system, and an upgrade of the professional franchise system.

“Commissioning the CWI governance review task force, led by Jamaican senator and Grace Kennedy CEO, Don Wehby was as one of the first actions we took after being elected,” said Skerritt.

“Mr Wehby and his team have been hard at work ever since and I expect to begin hearing from them over the next few weeks.”

Skerritt said serving as a member of this ICC group also gives him the opportunity to learn and share ideas at the highest level of world cricket administration and bring back to the Caribbean some best practices in our governance reform quest.

 

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